Atlanta Rhinos (32) defeated New York Knights (18)
The Atlanta Rhinos are the 2017 USA Rugby League Champions winning their first ever National Title. It what was an enthralling encounter in front of packed crowd at Life University Atlanta, the Rhinos came from behind to beat the New York Knights 32-18 and in doing so become the 2017 USARL National Champions. Atlanta started slowly and quickly found themselves down by a try within the opening minutes of the match. Alex Foster opened the scoring for New York early in the piece when he finished off a movement to give the visitors a 6-0 lead. Atlanta rebounded from their early setback to play their way back into the game and made it 6-4 when Nick Barthel scored out wide, the first of a pair of tries he’d post on the day. Max Pierce and Terrance Williams, followed with two more tries for the Rhinos in the second quarter to give them a 10-point cushion and a 16-6 lead at the main break despite being a player sin-binned (10 min) for back chatting the referee. The Knights got one back early in the second stanza to trail 16-12 and looked to capitalize when Atlanta were reduced to 12 men with Atlanta’s Tomu Osborne being Red Carded and marched from the field. Instead the Rhinos turned up the heat on what was already a very hot day in the Peachtree State and ran in two more converted tries by Barthel and Williams to build a commanding 28-12 lead. Again New York replied with an unconverted four-pointer of their own, but by that stage the gap was just too big to peg back and a final try by each side brought the scoring to a close.
It was the final game of rugby league for Rhinos’ forward Salesi Tongamoa, who had announced prior to the match that he would retire.
Venue: Life University: 1269 Barclay Cir, Marietta, GA 30060
Atlanta Rhinos – 32 (Terrance Williams x 3, Nick Barthel x 2, Max Pierce tries; Joe Cowley 4 goals) defeated New York Knights – 18 (Alex Foster, Neil Thorman, Curtis Cunz; Jovanny Perez 3 goals)
MVP: Hiko Malu
Match Officials: Insert Here...
Atlanta Rhinos: Zachary Evan Blalock, Nick Barthel, Jason Paul Jr, Terrance Williams, Max Pierce, Joseph Cowley, Samuel Cowley, Salesi Tongamoa, Jordon Smedley, Sean Hunt, Hiko Fotukava Malu, Tomu B Osborne, Nick Newlin (C) Interchange: Joe Cusumano, Corey Patton Jr., Matthew Wade, Alifereti Kikau Coach: Jordon Smedley
New York Knights: Insert names... Interchange: Insert names.... Coach: Insert names